The SEO Guide For Developers
SEO is for marketers- is a widespread misconception in the Devs community. Though developers hold the lock and key to all the necessary SEO tools, they often think SEO is a job for the marketing department. Some even think SEO is too difficult for them, an unnecessary hurdle they have no wish to overcome. However, developers can make a substantial contribution in ensuring a site is optimised. Here is the big SEO guide our SEO team at Perth have created exclusively for developers to help them realise their SEO skills to the greatest extent.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) refers to making your content visible for all the related queries, i.e., SEO is the process of boosting your website’s ranking in a search engine’s results so that more people would click on it. Google ranks search results by their relevancy to the keywords as well as the quality of the content. Right, so what does a developer have to do with it? Let’s find out.
How to Boost SEO as a Developer?
1. Technical SEO
Given below are the technical tactics you can use to boost SEO. Though they are simple, they are very effective in producing results.
- Internal linking: Internal linking is a significant technical aspect of SEO. It gives your site a structure. It also tells search engines which are the most important pages – the pages that have more links pointing to them. Internal linking between your pages positively affects user experience as well as crawling. Grouping pages with similar content in a “parent” page or footers is one way to implement internal linking. You can also use breadcrumbs or navigation elements to inform the user where they are on the site.
- Enable SSL: Secure websites attract more visitors as people trust these sites more. When people are safer browsing through your website with the HTTPS protocol enabled, Google would also recommend your pages more frequently. Make sure your web pages have a consistent protocol. If you use HTTPS, use it in all your links, scripts, and other applicable HTML elements.
- To crawl or not to crawl: Adding sitemaps simplifies crawling for Google. A sitemap file is an XML file that contains a comprehensive list of all the links that you want Google to crawl. It points Google to all the content that was recently updated and had to be verified. You can also use the robots.txt file to tell Google what it should crawl and what it shouldn’t. Check your codes to make sure that you are not unintentionally blocking crawlers from indexing your site.
2. On-Page SEO tactics to boost Content
We all know the phrase “Content is King.” But the king’s words need to be heard to be followed. As developers, there are innumerable steps you can take to ensure that content is optimised and heard.
- A unique <title> tag for each page: Ensure each page in your website has different yet functional title tags. They should contain around 50-60 characters. If possible, add numbers as well in your titles, as numbers indicate facts and thus would contribute to higher rankings.
- Meta descriptions: The text you give in the <meta> tag is the second thing a user sees next to the title. It tells both the user and the search engine what your page is about and hence, is an essential component of SEO. The text length should not be greater than 160 characters. This may need some content creation knowledge. If you are not comfortable writing creative descriptions, ensure that you are good friends with the content writer in your office.
- Choose appropriate heading tags: The <h1> tag is crucial and unavoidable. It can have more characters than the <title> tag so, try to include keywords in it. However, avoid crowding your content with unnecessary heading tags. It can affect the user experience adversely.
- HTML semantics are your allies: Adding semantic tags, such as <p> for paragraphs and <cite> for citations, improves the communication with the browsers. In addition, these tags provide more clarity regarding the content of the page. This clarity aids in SEO as any extra information helps deliver the right pages for the raised queries.
- Keywords: Use keywords in your URLs but keep them short. Use keywords in the file names as file names influence Google’s image, pdf, and doc searches. Keywords are beneficial n the <img> alt tags, as the image names appear if the image fails to load.
- The “lang” attribute: Google categorises its results by country and language. Using the “lang” attribute, you’ll be able to convey to Google which language the document is written in. It makes it easy for the search engine to know the location and language your content is aimed at and contributes to SEO.
3. Improving User Experience with On-page SEO
Now let’s turn our focus to user experience. What are some steps we could take to improve the user’s experience?
- Fast loading pages: Fast websites equal happy visitors. If your pages take too long to load, users will go back to Google and check for another website. When this happens, Google will deem your site irrelevant. So, how can you decrease the loading time?
- Use compressed images
- Use CDN
- Enable page caching on servers
- Make use of light file formats like WebM
- Enable code splitting with JS bundles
- Use Lazy Loading
- Responsive and browser compatible pages: Most of us use our smartphones more than our PCs. If you come across a website that is not compatible with your mobile phone, you might not spend time on it even if it has all the info you need. Google ranks search results for mobile devices and desktops differently, which means adaptability is a determining factor in SEO. Make sure your pages have responsive layouts that are comfortable for mobile users as well.
- Layout shifts are a no-no: Imagine you’re reading through an interesting article on your favourite hard metal band. Suddenly, an image finishes loading pushing the text out of your vision. Annoyed? Your website visitors will feel the same way. This sudden shift in layouts caused by loading elements is called a layout shift. Layout shifts are always unwelcome distractions. You can avoid them using placeholders.
- Attractive content for attentive eyes: Long paragraphs can be quite monotonous. So, avoid them. Work with the content team to break long texts into shorter pieces and make them more readable. Use lists and tables to make your content more dynamic.
On-page SEO – refers to all measures taken on your website to make it optimised. These are factors that you can control.
Technical SEO – are SEO measures taken on your website to ensure search engines can crawl, index and render sites correctly.
Keywords– or keyphrases describe the topic of your webpage. In simple words, it is the search terms for which you want the particular page to rank for.